To get involved in our Predictor contest, all you have to do is pick five Grand National horses - one from each of five categories. It’s completely free to play and there’s £250 up for grabs.
Here are our suggested picks:
The Last Samuri: unlucky last year and looks sure to go well again.
Saphir Du Rheu: excellent fifth in the Gold Cup and his jumping has improved markedly this season.
Raz De Maree: eye-catching second behind Native River in the Welsh National, still well-handicapped.
4. Making up the numbers
Drop Out Joe: lightly raced and thrives on faster ground.
5. Will do well to finish
Royal Encore: inconsistent but useful on his day and should stay.
Telegraph Grand National betting guide
The betting market for the Grand National will evolve right up until 5.15pm with millions of pounds staked and a number of strong contenders vying for favouritism.
Any from an elite group of well-handicapped runners - including Vieux Lion Rouge, Definitly Red, More Of That and Cause Of Causes -could be the one to capture the public’s imagination and attract the most cash.
The leading positions of these horses in the betting reflect their strong chances but the value in backing them may have gone and it is worth remembering that the last favourite to prevail was AP McCoy’s sole National victory on Don’t Push It, who was a 10/1 joint favourite in 2010.
The year before that success, Mon Mome came in at 100/1 and in 2013 Auroras Encore won at 66/1 so the market is not as important a guide as it is for many other races.
Nothing obvious about Joe
It can often pay to look for horses that have less obvious claims and are not grabbing the headlines.
Many of this year’s market leaders arrive off the back of good performances in established prep races such as Haydock’s Grand National Trial or races held over the big Aintree fences, but these contests haven’t produced winners in recent years.
The 2014 victor, Pineau De Re, had been campaigned over hurdles for a large part of his Grand National-winning season and he didn’t look an obvious type, but a bit more investigation revealed he was an impressive winner of the Ulster National earlier in his career and was proven on good ground, both pointed towards a big performance.
Another race in which he had run prior to his famous win was the Uttoxeter Summer Cup. It wouldn’t be the obvious go-to place for future Grand National winners, but it is targeted at strong stayers who like quicker ground. Last year’s race gave Drop Out Joe his third win over fences and he appears to have been forgotten about in this year’s Grand National market, with quotes of 66/1 widely available. He’s a proven stayer who loves quicker ground and jumps well, so what’s not to like?
Well, he hasn’t had a prep run, something that each of the last ten winners have had in their favour, but 66/1 is more than ample compensation and he doesn’t come across as a horse who would thrive from a busy racing calendar anyway. He may not be the most straightforward customer, often racing freely, but the big field may help in that regard and the nine-year-old could offer an attractive place alternative to the favourites.
Le Mercurey (40/1) may be another classy type who has been overshadowed by some big staying performances. He didn’t race in the Scottish Grand National at Ayr last year but instead won a Grade 2 event at that meeting and was second to previous National winner Many Clouds at Aintree, but on the Mildmay course rather than over the National fences.
Finishing is Special
For the more risk-averse, most bookmakers pay five or six places as standard, and there are often specials markets offering yet more places and betting on the number of finishers, which on good ground should be on the higher side; being less of an exhausting test.
Anyone looking to win a few pounds with an each-way steal may want to consider the prospects of last year’s runner-up, The Last Samuri. He looks sure to run well again after his valiant effort, seeing off 37 of his rivals before being caught close to home by Rule The World. The fact he’s been there and done it counts for plenty and while he’s obviously going to struggle to carry top weight to victory, the generous place offers look appealing and it’s hard to see him out of the first half dozen, if he can avoid trouble.
Ruby Walsh is a punters’ favourite and there is no more accomplished rider in the race. He will make sure Pleasant Company (16/1)has the best possible sight of the fences and will use all his experience to try and nurse him round. He gave the improving nine-year-old a brilliant ride to win at Fairyhouse and he could easily go well here.
The leading Irish jockey won the first of his two Grand Nationals in 2000 on the gambled on Papillon, and if you are backing Pleasant Company you may want to get on early as there could again be plenty of financial support for the leading Irish jockey as race time approaches.
When to place that bet
It is best not to leave placing your bets until the last minute and it often pays to take a price mid-morning of the race. This is usually when bookmakers are at their most competitive, all bidding for business and pushing prices out as a result. Plenty will also offer extra places and best odds guaranteed, so it’s well worth shopping around.